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Letter to IRS from Thomas More Society Demanding That Christian Voices Receive Tax Exempt Status

Letter to IRS from Thomas More Society Demanding That Christian Voices Receive Tax Exempt Status

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Published by Tom Ciesielka

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Published by: Tom Ciesielka on Apr 12, 2011
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11/03/2011

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M.
1
MOSHER
&
WAGENMAKER,
LLC
j.
W
AttorneysatLaw
MichaelP.MosherSallyR.WagenrnakerRyan
K.
OberlyCharlesV.Hogren
April12,2011Mr.TyroneThomasInternalRevenueServiceTE/GEDivision:Grp7886ElMonte,CA91731-2885
ViaFacsimileNo.626-312-2926
andUs.
Mail
Re:ChristianVoicesforLifeofFortBendCounty-FEIN27-2263399PendingForm1023Application;ResponsetoIRS'sSecondRequestforMoreInformationDatedMarch31,2011(Case#440193036)DearMr.Thomas:IamwritingonbehalfofChristianVoicesforLifeofFortBendCounty("ChristianVoicesforLife")inregardtoitspendingIRSForm1023application,andparticularlyyoursecondrequestformoreinformationdatedMarch31,2011.EnclosedforyourconvenienceisacopyofyourMarch31correspondence.Myclient'sIRSForm2848evidencingmyauthoritytodosoisalreadyfiledwiththeIRS.
A.ChristianVoicesforLifeisEntitledtoaFavorableIRSDeterminationLetter.
AssetforthinitsIRSForm1023application,ChristianVoicesforLifeisasmallcharitableorganizationthatisdedicatedtopromotingacultureoflifethrougheducation,prayer,andotherministryactivities.Inallrespects,Ibelievethatitisorganizedandoperatedinaccordancewithsection501(c)(3)oftheInternalRevenueCodeforqualifiedcharitablepurposes.Thisconclusionisbasedonmyoffice'smorethanthirtyyears'experienceinsuccessfullyapplyingfortax-exemptrecognitionofmorethan1,500publiccharities,includingorganizationsverysimilartoChristianVoicesforLife.ThefollowinganswersareprovidedinresponsetothefollowingquestionsintheIRS'sMarch31correspondence,andtheyplainlydonotaltersuchresult.Accordingly,theIRSshouldissueafavorabledeterminationlettertoChristianVoicesforLifewithoutfurtherdelay.
33N.LaSalleSt.,Ste.3400,Chicago,1L60602Tel:312-220-0019Fax:312-220-0700www.mosherlaw.com
 
MOSHER
&
WAGENMAKER,
LLCAttorneysatLaw
April12,2011Page2B.IRSQuestionsPerItsMarch31Correspondence
1.
"Inyoureducationalprogram,doyoueducation[sic]onbothsidesoftheissuesinyourprogram?Pleaseexplain."a.ThisQuestionisLegallyInappropriateUnderCurrentLegalStandards.Forpurposesofsection501(c)(3)qualification,theterm"educational"includesthefollowingdefinition:"Theinstructionofthepubliconsubjectsusefultotheindividualandbeneficialcommunity."Treas.Reg.§1.501(c)(3)-1(d)(3)(i)(b).TheIRS'definitionof"educational"furtherexpresslyincludesorganizationsthat"advocateaparticularpositionorviewpoint."Treas.Reg.§1.501(c)(3)-1(d)(3).TotheextentthatChristianVoicesforLife'swebsitematerials,itsspeakers'materials,prayers,oritsvolunteers'signscouldbedeemedtoconstitute"advocacy,"theyfallwellwithinsection501(c)(3)'sdefinitionof"educational."Yourquestionimpliessomesortoflegaldutytoprovideabalancedpresentationofeducationalinformation.Butthishasnotbeenthelegalstandardundersection501(c)(3)foraquartercenturynow,asexplainedbelow.In1986,theIRSissuedofficialguidanceonhowadvocacyofaparticularviewpointorpositionmaybe"educational"withinthemeaningofsection501(c)(3).SeeRev.Proc.86-43.InthisRevenueProcedure,theIRSfirstemphasizedits"positionof
disinterestedneutrality
withrespecttothebeliefsadvocatedbyanorganization."rd.at§2.02(emphasisadded).Inaddition,"advocacyofparticularviewpointsorpositionsmayserveaneducationalpurposeeveniftheviewpointsorpositionsbeingadvocatedareunpopularorarenotgenerallyaccepted."Rev.Proc.86-43at§3.01.Thus,one'sdisagreementwithaparticularmessagedoesnotalteritseducationalnature.Furthermore,astheD.C.CircuitCourtofAppealsrecognizedinBigMamaRag,Inc.v.UnitedStates,631F.2d1030(D.C.Cir.1980),educationalcommunicationsmaybebriefandemotionallycompelling,suchasconveyedthroughsignsorbumperstickers:"TheAmericanCancerSociety'scausemaybebetterservedbyabumperstickerpicturingaskullandcrossbonesandsaying'smokingrotsyourlungs'thanbyonethatmerelystates'smokingishazardoustoyourhealth.'Bothareintendedtoimpartthesamemessage,andtheyareidenticalindegreeofspecificityoftheunderlyingfacts."631F.2dat1039.Holdingupsignscontainingone'sviewsaboutissuesthuscertainlymayqualifyaseducational.
 
MOSHER
&
WAGENMAKER,
LLC
AttorneysatLaw
April12,2011Page3
In
BigMamaRag,theD.C.CourtofAppealsruledthattheIRS'sprior"fullandfairexposition"standardfordeterminingwhetheradvocacywaseducationalornot-ascontainedintheTreasuryregulationsinterpretingsection501(c)(3)-wasunconstitutionallyvagueandthereforeinfringedFirstAmendmentfreespeechrights.rd.at1034-35;seealsoTreas.Reg.§l.S01(c)(3)-1(d)(3)(i)(b)("fullandfairexposition"standard).
InRevenueProcedure
86-43,
theIRSexpresslyrecognizedthisconstitutionalinvalidation.
SeeRev.Proc.at.§2.03.TheIRS'currentfocusisthusnotontheadvocatedviewpointsorpositionsthemselves,butratherontheorganization's
method
tocommunicatethemtoothers.rd.at§§2.03,2.04and3.02(citingNationalAlliancev.UnitedStates,710F.2d868(D.C.Cir.1983)).Accordingly,anorganization'sadvocacyactivitiesare"educational"unlessitspresentationscontainoneormoreofthefollowingelements:(a)viewpointsorpositionsthatareunsupportedbythefacts;(b)distortedfacts;(c)substantialuseofinflammatoryanddisparagingtermsaswellasconclusionsexpressedmoreonthebasisofstrongemotionalfeelingsthanofobjectiveevaluations;or(d)anapproachnotaimedatdevelopingtheintendedaudience'sunderstanding.Rev.Proc.86-43at§3.03.Notably,insomecircumstances,"anorganization'sadvocacymaybeeducationalevenifoneormoreofthesefactorsarepresent."Id.at§3.04.Consequently,thequestionofwhetheranorganization'sactivitiesare"educational"ornotshouldbeevaluatedgenerouslyinfavorofinclusion.
b.ChristianVoicesforLife'sMethodsofCommunicatingItsEducationalViewpointsareAppropriate.
In
thiscase,noneoftheaboveimproperelementsispresent.Instead,ChristianVoicesforLifeexclusivelyengagesinpostingfactualinformationonitswebsite,makingspeakersavailablewhosimilarlyrelyonandspeakaboutfact-basedinformationandpositions,prayervigilactivities,andpeaceableassembliesthatdemonstrateChristiancompassionandlove.
Seeenclosedwebsitegeneralmaterials,websitematerialsontopicsandspeakers,"40DaysforLife"StatementofPeaceandvolunteercommitment/waivers,and"LifeChain"CodeofConductandvolunteercommitment/waivers.
Forexample,thetopicalmaterialsthatareavailablethroughChristianVoicesforLife'swebsiterefertoscientificevidence,notopinionorrhetoric.
Seeenclosedwebsitematerialsontopicsandspeakers.
In
addition,ChristianVoicesforLifedoesnotallowanyinflammatorylanguage,disparagingterminology,orsimilaractivitieswhatsoever.Rather,allparticipantsmustcommittobeing"peaceful,prayerful,andpolite,"withnothreatening,physicalcontactorverbalabuseallowed.
See"40DaysforLife"StatementofPeaceandvolunteercommitment/waivers,and"LifeChain"CodeofConductandvolunteercommitment/waivers.
Similarly,notrespassingor
33N.LaSalleSt.,Ste.3400,Chicago,IL60602Tel:312-220-0019Fax:312-220-0700www.mosherlaw.com

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